Petal to the Metal

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Now we’re all ready for next-generation graphics

“Getting closer to metal” is the hot thing in graphics these days. With so many low power devices needing more horsepower without needing wads of power, companies like AMD, Microsoft and Apple are looking for ways to increase efficiency from the software side things. AMD got the ball rolling with their Mantle API, Apple introduced their Metal API with iOS 8 and Microsoft’s Windows 10 will also usher in the era of DirectX 12 and its low level access. That only leaves one major player and that’s the successor to OpenGL.

That successor’s name is Vulkan and with the backing of several key players such as Intel, AMD, NVIDIA, Valve, EA, Blizzard, Pixar and Epic Games, it promises to be right at the coat tails of DirectX 12. If you’re looking for digestible details, I suggest you pay a visit to AnandTech’s article on the matter.

We know who will support Vulkan but what will support it? Will the PlayStation 4 see support in the future? Is it even necessary? I’m sure it’ll make life a lot easier for porting reasons but if Sony already has solid low level access to their systems, what’s the incentive for Sony to support an API like Vulkan?

I’m glad the industry as a whole is doing this giant re-evaluation of software. I’m glad we’re not just stacking things on-top of established known quantities just because that’s the way they’ve always been. Apple have been at the forefront of technologies and breaking up established norms and it’s about time other companies are willing to shed away the old and make way for modern ideas.

Oh, Apple. How you amaze me

These are just a few items that are generating buzz for Apple.

  1. They’re looking to get into the car business.
  2. They secured the highest percentage of smartphone sales in the Q4 2014.
  3. The impending launch of the Apple Watch on March 9th

I want to talk about the second item, the popularity of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plaus and their 4.7″ and 5.5″ screens. We know what the market wanted. It’s in large part why Samsung phone sales ballooned during the iPhone 5 and 5S years. What I want to know is if Apple did this on purpose: did Apple purposely take the incremental step from 3.5″ to 4″ and finally to 4.7″ and 5.5″? Did they purposely drip feed the size increase with the 4″ iPhone 5 and 5S to maximize sales? I’m not condemning them for that move, I’m just wondering if they were doing it on purpose.

There was no reason not to tackle Samsung’s Galaxy S3 head on with a large screen of their own. I cannot believe that it took Apple this long to tackle the one handed utilization issues that purportedly held them back from pursing large screen phones in 2012.

Again, I’m just curious because by going down the path that they did, they made an incredible amount of money.

Quote of the Week

“Live long and prosper.”

— Lt. Commander Spock & Leonard Nimoy

What’s going on with Square Enix & Nomura?

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First he was unceremoniously removed as the director of Final Fantasy Versus XIII XV. Then there was his worrying open letter about “harnessing burning anger into Kingdom Hearts 3″ and now we learn that Kingdom Hearts 3 will ditch Square Enix’s internally developed Luminous Engine for Unreal Engine 4.

What’s going on with Square Enix? Is Luminous Engine that difficult to work with that it was actually more cost effective to go out an license Epic Games’ latest release? Or is this Nomura sticking it to Square Enix and refusing to use their internally developed engine?

The early Agni’s Philosophy tech demo was impressive if not a little far reaching for the current generation of consoles but Final Fantasy XV’s most recent trailer showcased the engine in a very positive light. The gameplay demonstrated could have featured Sora and his Disney friends and I wouldn’t have been none the wiser.

Unless Nomura has another PR meltdown, I’m guessing we’ll never know why they switched engines. And if Final Fantasy XV launches with a impressive visuals featuring both breadth and depth, we’ll be in a better position to infer.

A better look at Fortnite

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I still cannot believe this game is being developed by Epic Games. I also can’t believe this will be their first Unreal Engine 4 for the PC. This is the studio that debuted Unreal Engines with Unreal Tournament and Gears of War.

I cannot believe it but I can appreciate their confidence in the engine’s flexibility. What better way to demonstrate to developers that your engine is more than just a gritty shooter engine.

I like the look of it but I’m not sure about the gameplay. Co-operative horde mode with base building elements sounds like it will entertain me for a week or so. Thankfully, it’s a free to play title. As for a release date? Some time in 2014?

Gears of War franchise now belongs to Microsoft

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xbox-one-logoMicrosoft bought the rights to the Gears of War franchise from Epic Games for an estimated $100 million at most. Black Tusk Studios with the former Epic Games and Gears of War director, Rod Ferguson, will be responsible for the franchise and are working a title for the near future.

This move makes a lot of sense for Microsoft. The franchise is already synonymous with the Xbox platform and they need all the exclusive franchises they can gather.

I enjoyed Gears of War 3 but I also felt like I had my fill of that brand of third person shooting. I didn’t even bother with Gears of War: Judgement. But by the time the next Gears of War title lands for the Xbox One, I should be ready to chainsaw Locusts once again.

P.S – Epic Games says they’re still in the business of developing games.

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